Battle for backup ensnares two players

Michael Bauer | sports editor

With Anthony Abenoja, junior in physical education, already a shoe-in for the starting quarterback position as the Gorillas put on the finishing touches in entering the 2013 season, the battle to back him up is wide open.
Darrack Harger, sophomore in physical education, and Ramsey Hamilton, freshman in physical education, have been dueling it out for the No. 2 spot.

A Pittsburg State University wide receiver running drills during Gorilla football practice at Carnie Smith Stadium on Sept. 3, 2013.

A Pittsburg State University wide receiver running drills during Gorilla football practice at Carnie Smith Stadium on Sept. 3, 2013.

“Being behind a guy like Anthony has made me a lot better as a quarterback and I know I need to improve my game quite a bit to beat him out or attempt to beat him out,” Harger said. “And guys like Ramsey Hamilton who are good athletes and good quarterbacks makes my job tough and makes me get better.”
Harger saw action in a reserve role in three games in the 2012 season. His statistics from that year include six of 11 passes completed for 68 yards. Against Lincoln, he completed six passes for 34 yards.
Both quarterbacks saw plenty of action in the 2013 spring scrimmage in April. Harger completed five of 17 passes for 71 yards, which included a 45-yard touchdown pass and one interception.
Hamilton rushed for two touchdowns on carries of two and 12-yard runs that helped the White team to a 19-7 victory over the Red team. He had 12 carries for a game-high of 63 yards and completed four of seven passes for 48 yards.
“It’s been a good battle between Darrack Harger and Ramsey Hamilton,” said Tim Beck, head football coach. “We’ve got three or four scrimmages left so we’ll learn a lot more in about a week or so.”
Even though the two quarterbacks never competed against each other in a single high school game, they both hail from the Sooner State.
Harger, of Sand Springs, Okla., earned honorable mention in Oklahoma Class 6A All-State performer twice at Charles Page High School. He threw for 2,210 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing 200 yards his senior year in 2011. His junior year saw 1,729 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Likewise, Hamilton, of Beggs, Okla., earned Class 3A All-State performer his senior year in 2011. His resume includes leading his team to a 10-2 season in 2011, earning a district title that same year, and holding his position as starter for four years.
“We’ve got to give each of them a fair opportunity,” Beck said. “We want to see them in some scrimmages and see how they do, and make the decision from there.”
Harger and Hamilton may be competing for the same position, but both say they have learned a lot from starting quarterback Abenoja.
“He (Abenoja) takes time and effort to teach me some of the new stuff or stuff that he knows and little tricks that he knows,” Harger said. “He’s helping me become a better quarterback and I appreciate that from him.”
Hamilton added that Steve Rampy, assistant football coach and offensive coordinator, also gives great advice.
“If I make a mistake or mess up, Abenoja or Rampy tells me and helps me out so we’re all really good buddies.  Our team is really close, so it helps out,” Hamilton said.
When comparing what the two players bring to the table, Beck says both can run and throw the ball. He mentioned Harger’s size and vision, and Hamilton’s ability to scramble as being a positive.
“It’s been fun,” Hamilton said. “We have fun; we’re all really good friends. Me and Darrack are good buddies and have known each other since high school. It’s been a fun battle and we know off the field that we’re friends and teammates.”

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